Skip to main content

Vending pakoras can hardly be the real meaning of New India, yet Modi believes in it

By Anand K. Sahay
‘New India’ is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s copyright. It wasn’t in the BJP manifesto in 2014. It is a powerful rubric with which to attract youth power, and harness it.
And yet, when nearly four years of the five are done, the best that Modi’s BJP can do to bring the young Indian on board is to cook up the idiotic notion of pakora growth, and pakora politics, when unemployment is rampant among all classes.
This little savoury on the snack menu can’t surely be the lead symbol of the Asian century in which India thinks it has a part to play. Vending pakoras can hardly be said to the real meaning of India in the new era.
But, surprisingly, Modi believes it does. When questions on rising joblessness were being flung at him, he was far from defensive. His instinctive- and instant and heartless- reply was that making pakoras was also work.
It is hard not to be reminded of the vicious mocking tone of Marie Antoinette- the French queen sent to the guillotine by the revolutionaries, and known for her taste for fancy clothes- when she said if Frenchmen could not eat bread, let them eat cakes.
The Modi government’s achievement on the front of meaningful employment for the young people is less than shallow. The PM in all honesty can’t point to employment or self-employment gains flowing from the much-hyped official programmes such as Skill India, Stand Up India, or the Bheem App spinning out processes that lead to gainful work for the youth in keeping with the aspirations of our times, which Modi’s rhetorical highs helped fuel.
The employment data is woeful. This should cause no surprise, windbag speeches aside. When private investment figures for the economy signal long-time lows, even a ‘service-sector’ avenue like selling hot pakoras cannot have seen a massive expansion. Besides, there is not much value-addition involved in such a line of work, and the earnings are pitiable- hardly an advertisement for the shining glory promised in craftily designed government ads and slogans.
BJP president Amit Shah is the perfect acolyte and follows very closely in his master’s footstep. Thus, hardly had Modi uttered pakora than Shah take up the idea with a devotee’s passion. He held forth on pakora employment in his maiden Rajya Sabha speech last week, attacking political opponents for mocking this as an example of meaningful economic activity.
Let not a national party -- the country’s ruling party -- degrade itself in this manner because it has failed to live up to its promise of building the economy and seeking to expand it in directions that will yield a new future for young Indians.
It’s a disgrace and leaves a terrible impression of the country- not just of the BJP- among people around the world at a time when the BJP is planning to designate Modi a “Global Legend”, no less.
For doing what exactly? Who knows? May be for getting the saffron party to have a parliamentary majority of its own, for there is no evidence whatsoever of this Indian Prime Minister leaving the slightest mark on the world stage- with his neighbourhood policy a shambles, and the relationship with America dependent only on selling India as a huge market and as a military base.
But for a party always on the lookout for propaganda punches, the PM is the new Nehru, the new Gandhi, the new Mao, the new Dalai Lama and even the new Marilyn Monroe rolled in one. However, propaganda fades and falsehood has a narrow shelf-life; reality lives on.
Last heard, the BJP was planning pakora parties and opening pakora stalls in a miserable attempt to mock the opposition and to subliminally suggest to the poor that the saffron party’s opponents were making fun of them for doing low-value work. This is “technology for development” of the Modi era.
‘Chaiwala’ politics is long done. If the Prime Minister must offer the country hope, he must move on and invent fresh gags and new lines of enchantment. Modi has gone places on the strength of volatile, hypocritical, speeches delivered mostly in the idiom of the poor Indian. These were aimed at self-glorification and the denigration of others in unbecoming language. People have seen through them, especially the poor who had swallowed the untruths and were fooled. It’s time to move on.
Mostly these speeches were constructed on the basis of ‘facts’- either so-called current data or presumed historical information- that were manufactured to dupe the unsuspecting public with in an era when many Indians derive their information almost solely from WhatsApp groups, treating the abounding rumours contained in them as gospel.
Even by his own troubling standards, the PM’s reply in Parliament to the motion of thanks to the President’s address recently was startling. It made evident that Modi’s principal agenda is to pull down Nehru and banish him even from the land of memory; it is not to create jobs or promote science and learning or better lives for Indians.
The agenda is to build a “New India” of the RSS’ imagination. Plainly put, the idea is to assert that all the science we know is embedded in the Vedas, and to deny that non-Hindu Indians had any contribution in the making of India’s culture and civilisation.
In this “New India”, Deendayal Upadhyay, a deep votary of RSS’ fundamental tenets which demonise Gandhi and his work, is the new Gandhi. Nehru’s vision stands in the way of this egregious project. Hence, it must be denigrated even by inventing history, as Modi did in Parliament.
To challenge the reasonable notion that it is hard to think of democracy without Nehru, the PM expounded that India had democracy even in the Lichchvi era!
Then, the usual Patel card: If Vallabhbhai were PM, there will be no Kashmir problem. No one has informed Modi that both Nehru and Patel had together told Maharaja Hari Singh that it won’t be considered an anti-India act even if he chose to join Pakistan, but he should make up his mind before independence came about.
And no one’s informed Modi that it is Gandhi who made Nehru PM and that he didn’t usurp the throne.
Anyway, it is now too late for Narendrabhai to change. May be the people will change him.
---
This article first appeared in The Asian Age

Comments

TRENDING

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

'Misleading' ads: Are our celebrities and public figures acting responsibly?

By Deepika* It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a consumer product, the Supreme Court said as it recently clamped down on misleading advertisements.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Palm oil industry deceptively using geenwashing to market products

By Athena*  Corporate hypocrisy is a masterclass in manipulation that mostly remains undetected by consumers and citizens. Companies often boast about their environmental and social responsibilities. Yet their actions betray these promises, creating a chasm between their public image and the grim on-the-ground reality. This duplicity and severely erodes public trust and undermines the strong foundations of our society.

'Fake encounter': 12 Adivasis killed being dubbed Maoists, says FACAM

Counterview Desk   The civil rights network* Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM), even as condemn what it has called "fake encounter" of 12 Adivasi villagers in Gangaloor, has taken strong exception to they being presented by the authorities as Maoists.

Mired in controversy, India's polio jab programme 'led to suffering, misery'

By Vratesh Srivastava*  Following the 1988 World Health Assembly declaration to eradicate polio by the year 2000, to which India was a signatory, India ran intensive pulse polio immunization campaigns since 1995. After 19 years, in 2014, polio was declared officially eradicated in India. India was formally acknowledged by WHO as being free of polio.

No compensation to family, reluctance to file FIR: Manual scavengers' death

By Arun Khote, Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, there have been four instances of horrifying deaths of sewer/septic tank workers in Uttar Pradesh. On 2 May, 2024, Shobran Yadav, 56, and his son Sushil Yadav, 28, died from suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Lucknow’s Wazirganj area. In another incident on 3 May 2024, two workers Nooni Mandal, 36 and Kokan Mandal aka Tapan Mandal, 40 were killed while cleaning the septic tank in a house in Noida, Sector 26. The two workers were residents of Malda district of West Bengal and lived in the slum area of Noida Sector 9. 

India 'not keen' on legally binding global treaty to reduce plastic production

By Rajiv Shah  Even as offering lip-service to the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEA) for the need to curb plastic production, the Government of India appears reluctant in reducing the production of plastic. A senior participant at the UNEP’s fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4), which took place in Ottawa in April last week, told a plastics pollution seminar that India, along with China and Russia, did not want any legally binding agreement for curbing plastic pollution.